Snapchat sells new audience-targeted Filters through revamped self-serve ads tool

Snapchat is making its Sponsored Filters more accessible to advertisers and more agile for targeting.

On Tuesday, Snapchat introduced an alternative to its Sponsored Geofilters ad format called Audience Filters that can be targeted to specific audiences regardless of location and can be bought through its updated self-serve ad-buying tool, Ads Manager.

Same ad format, new audience targeting

Cosmetically, Audience Filters are the same as Sponsored Geofilters. Now categorized as “Filters,” both are branded overlays that people can apply to the Snaps they send in private messages or upload to their public Stories. However, Sponsored Geofilters are aimed at people in specific locations, such as in an airport, at a concert venue or near a brick-and-mortar store. Meanwhile, Audience Filters aren’t location-locked. As the name suggests, their targeting is audience-based, not location-based.

Audience Filters can be targeted based on people’s age, gender, language, the type of device they are using and Snap Lifestyle Categories, which are interest-based categories compiled by Snapchat according to the content people view in its app. These filters can also be targeted by location, though at a much broader level than Sponsored Geofilters. Instead of setting up pinpointed geofences, brands can aim Audience Filters at people nationwide or zoom into certain regions (states, provinces and so on), metro areas or ZIP codes.

New buying process

Another point of difference between Sponsored Geofilters and Audience Filters is how the latter can be bought. First, Snapchat will sell Audience Filters through its Ads Manager tool, which had previously only sold the app’s vertical video Snap Ads. Second, Snapchat will sell these filters through its ad auction. Third, advertisers will base their bids on people actually using their Audience Filters.

Goal-based bidding

In a seeming nod to the fact that the self-serve tool appeals to small and medium-sized advertisers, Snapchat is rolling out a goal-based bidding option for Audience Filter campaigns. When buying an Audience Filter, brands will be asked how much they are willing to pay for each time someone posts a snap that features a filter, either in a private message or in their Story. Then Snapchat will try to insert the branded filter in the filter galleries of people deemed most likely to apply it to a Snap, as opposed to those who might play with it privately but never share it with anyone else. This is a way for advertisers to try to make sure that their branded filters get wider reach. It is also a way for Snapchat to get more money, since it still ultimately charges advertisers based on the number of impressions their ads receive, not the number of times they are shared. That could mitigate the likelihood that selling Audience Filters programmatically will drive down Snapchat’s overall ad price, a metric that its parent company reports in its quarterly earnings and that sank by 60 percent year over year in Q3 2017 because of a shift to selling Snap Ads programmatically.

Updated Ads Manager

The addition of Audience Filters isn’t the only update that Snapchat is making to Ads Manager. The self-serve tool is getting a broader refresh to unify the various sections of Snapchat’s online ad platform in a way that resembles Facebook’s. Now Ads Manager’s menu combines the ad-buying tool, Snapchat’s Snap Publisher ad-creation tool, its Business Manager account-management tool and Advanced Mode, which caters to brands looking for more powerful tools to manage and analyze their campaigns. This unification not only makes it easier to access Snapchat’s various tools for advertisers but also makes it more likely that advertisers will be aware of them. And to both of those ends, Snapchat is officially rolling out an online training program, called Snapchat Explore, for small and medium-sized businesses to learn the ins and outs of advertising in its app.

About The Author

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.